In the days leading up to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, usracing.com will profile the horses in the race set for Jan. 23. The profiles will be updated on Jan. 20 with morning-line odds, post positions and jockeys.
By Ed McNamara
He was bred by venerable Claiborne Farm, the undisputed all-time leader in clever names. This gelding got his through a play off his dam’s, Toll. Not many Claiborne products end up in maiden claimers as 2-year-olds, but that’s where trainer Danny Gargan grabbed Tax for $50,000 out of a race he won at Keeneland in October 2018.
Gargan has been unusually successful with claims, and this was one of his best. Six weeks later, Tax ran third in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct. The next winter, Tax was on the Triple Crown trail, and he had a solid season. Although he struggled in the marquee races — 14th in the Kentucky Derby, fourth in the Belmont, seventh in the Travers — he won the Withers and Jim Dandy and ran second in the Wood Memorial.
He’ll be trying to improve upon his ninth-place finish behind Mucho Gusto in last year’s Pegasus. He prepped for it impressively at Gulfstream on Dec. 12, when he missed the track record for 1 1/16 miles by .18 of a second in a 4 1/2-length romp in the ungraded Harlan’s Holiday Stakes. He led throughout, so maybe he can put a little pressure on front-runner Knicks Go in the Pegasus.
“We were just saving him for the next time,” jockey Luis Saez said.
Nine furlongs is Tax’s best distance, so consider him a contender with an outside shot.
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Danny Gargan
Jockey: Luis Saez
Owner: Hugh Lynch, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, R.A. Hill Stable
Career record: 13-4-3-1
Career earnings: $957,060
Top Equibase speed figure: 115
Pedigree: Arch-Toll, by Giant’s Causeway
Color: Dark bay
Running style: Speed/stalker
Notes: Tax has won three graded stakes but no Grade 1 … Gargan, a personable native of Louisville, said: “I think this will be his best year. He’s grown, developed. He’s sound. He’s bigger, stronger than he’s ever been.” … The Harlan’s Holiday was his return off a seven-month layoff, so he’s still fresh and should have more to give … Worked 4 furlongs in 48.00 seconds on Jan. 15 at Palm Meadows Training Center.
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.